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  • Writer's pictureEric Moreno

Dell Diamond – Round Rock Express



Photos by Eric Moreno, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.86

Dell Diamond 3400 East Palm Valley Blvd Round Rock, TX 78665


Year Opened: 2000 Capacity: 11,631

 

Round Rock Express – Dell Diamond

At the start of the 21st century, baseball Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan and his business partners purchased the Jackson Generals and moved them to the north central Texas city of Round Rock – in time for the 2000 season, the Round Rock Express, named for their famed owner, was born. As the Triple-A affiliate of the Texas Rangers, the Express has experienced lengthy periods of success while sending crop after crop of talented ballplayers to the big leagues.


Round Rock has taken home seven division titles, three conference titles, and one league title as a member of the Texas League (the latter in 2000). Former MLB All-Stars such as Yordan Alvarez, Chris Davis, Joey Gallo, and Josh Jung are just some of the ballplayers that have donned the unis of the Express.


Since day one the Round Rock club has called Dell Diamond their homefield. In addition to being the home park for the Express, Dell Diamond has also been home to college baseball, rugby, the Double-A All-Star Game in 2001, an episode of Fear the Walking Dead, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s The Simple Life, and an awesome publicity stunt by Will Ferrell.


In one of my favorite cities in Texas, Dell Diamond is probably my favorite minor-league ballpark. Read on to learn all about it.

 

Food & Beverage   5

The food and beverage scene at Dell Diamond is, quite frankly, top-notch. You can pretty much find whatever you’ve got a hankering for, with foods ranging from your traditional hot dogs, nachos, and burgers to rice bowls, mac and cheese, and barbecue.


Some highlights to be on the lookout for include beer-battered fish and chips at Cork and Barrel Pub, red velvet milkshakes at Fairlane’s Diner, a “Moa Bowl”, which is chicken tenders in mango habanero sauce with sesame seeds and tater tots from Ono Pacific Grill, and “The Boomstick”, a foot-long hot dog smothered in chili and queso topped with fried onions and jalapeños.


You can also find local favorites, such as Mighty Fine Burgers and Southside Market Barbecue, featuring pared-down versions of their iconic menus. All the food is on the mezzanine/main level, which makes things very convenient; you won’t go hungry in Round Rock.

 

Atmosphere   4

In terms of atmosphere, Dell Diamond is all about the details. Premium fan areas, such as Bullpen Bar located just beyond centerfield, offer a great respite from the summertime heat, which is inescapable in this part of Texas once the calendar changes over to June.


Right next to that is a kid's play area dubbed “The Backyard”, complete with rides, a splash pad, and a rock-climbing wall – this area is restricted to kids 12 and under, and they must be supervised by an adult.



The team store, aka The Railyard, is located on the first base side of the stadium. It is pretty massive for a minor league team and has a ton of merchandise, including specialty and collector’s items.


Beyond the left field wall is the Home Run Porch; this covered seating area is a prime spot for fans wanting to catch dingers, as well as being the best-shaded spot in the ballpark. The premium seats in this area are rocking chairs, which sit in the shade underneath ceiling fans – again, a bonus during the summer. Behind the seating here you’ll find the Round Rock Express Hall of Fame, which honors important figures in the team’s history.


Dell Diamond also has two outfield lawn seating areas; with a general admission ticket, fans can bring in blankets, lawn chairs, or towels to sit on in these sloped grassy areas. Also, photo opportunities abound all through the ballpark for fans looking to get that one for the ‘Gram.

 

Neighborhood   4

Round Rock is roughly a 20-minute drive north on Interstate 35 from the big city of Austin, becoming pretty much a suburb of the Texas capitol. As such you’ll find a lot of the trappings of a big city, but it still retains some of its small-town charm.


The immediate area around Dell Diamond has been built up quite a bit, however – it is across the street from a relatively new Kalahari Resort. This ultra-family-friendly playground is home to rides, a massive indoor waterpark, an array of dining options, and a spa. If you’re taking little ones, this would be a great way to cap off the trip.


Also, just down the road from the ballpark is Old Settlers Park, which is the city’s number one public park. For sporting enthusiasts this place is a paradise, offering up areas for fishing, disc golf, cricket, volleyball, basketball, football, and so much more.


If you’re looking for dining options either before or after the game, you can’t do much better than Salt Lick BBQ. I will admit some bias, as the Salt Lick location in Dripping Springs is my favorite barbecue spot in the state, which by default makes it my favorite in the country. Mouth-watering brisket, dynamite sausage, and fall-off-the-bone ribs are all ranked as some of the best in the state. I would also recommend not skimping out on dessert, as the blackberry cobbler is sneaky fantastic.


One other recommendation I have to pass on regarding food is the hands-down best donut shop in the state, Round Rock Donuts. With its signature orange-glazed offerings, Round Rock Donuts has been a beloved Texas institution for nearly a century. If you can go early, that’d be great as the demand for the sugary treats only increases exponentially during the rest of the day.


For lodging, most of your traditional hotel/motel options are going to be closer to Interstate 35; however, not too far from the ballpark is La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham Round Rock East. This affordable option is within walking distance of the ballpark. Aside from this and Kalahari Resort, the only other option in this section of Round Rock is Redbud Ranch Cabin & RV Resort – this quaint spot is about 10 minutes from the ballpark.

 

Fans   3

Last season the Express averaged around 5,600 fans per game, which places them smack-dab in the middle of the minor leagues in terms of attendance. This was about what I experienced, taking into consideration that it was drizzling off and on throughout the day on my most recent visit, which probably affected the crowd somewhat.



While this level of attendance is respectable, it is a far cry from the halcyon days of the early 2000s, representing only about half of what the park holds.


I believe the lure of Austin and all it has to offer has sapped some of the luster from the Express. With that being said, the fans who attend games here truly care about their team. They’re loud, engaged, and dressed in the team’s garb, and there are also quite a few kids at the game, which is a good sign; get them to be fans while they’re young!

 

Access   3

As mentioned, Round Rock and Dell Diamond are about 20 minutes from downtown Austin. The exit for the ballpark is marked off Interstate 35, which is nice. Once on-site, parking is plentiful in two main lots. The park is also about a 25-minute drive from the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport.


If you choose not to drive or use rideshare, the public transportation option in Round Rock, CapMetro, has stops near Dell Diamond.

 

Return on Investment   4

Single-game tickets for the Round Rock Express at Dell Diamond start at just $13 per person. This is pretty much on par with the rest of Triple-A; note that costs do vary slightly, however, depending on the day of the week or the promotion that is offered for that game.


Parking is also pretty on par with the rest of MiLB at $15 per car. The concession costs vary, but you will still be able to get a pretty good bite to eat and something to drink without bursting your wallet. All in all, it’s still a good bargain in Round Rock, especially considering the talent that comes through Dell Diamond every year.

 

Extras   4

Like most, if not all, minor league clubs, the Express pulls out lots of stops to get folks to the ballpark. Virtually every game this season has some sort of giveaway or theme night, including $2 Taco Tuesdays, fireworks on Friday nights, Round Rock Donuts jersey giveaways, and meet and greets with the legit Shooter McGavin and Napoleon Dynamite!


The team also takes part in the Minor Leagues Copa de la Diversión, and for certain games, they don the uniforms of the Chupacabras de Round Rock.


For Kids Days, which take place each month, a miniature train is brought in along with balloon artists, face painters, and bounce houses.


Last, but most certainly not least is the team’s mascot, Spike – this lovable bulldog/train conductor can be counted on to entertain the crowds throughout Express games, and is always amenable to taking photos with fans of all ages.

 

Final Thoughts

As mentioned, Dell Diamond is my favorite minor league park. Even though it is approaching 25 years old, it still looks modern. There are tons of nods to baseball’s past, which is both intrinsic and essential to the sport. There is not a bad sightline in the stadium, and it has enough amenities and extras to keep everyone (e.g., young fans) entertained and engaged. I would add Dell Diamond to your bucket list, and I’m sure you’ll understand why when you take in a game here.



Follow Eric Moreno's Stadium Journey on Twitter at @EricMoreno6477.

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